By COLlive reporter
A new United States Postal Service Forever stamp honors Shirley Chisholm, the trailblazing Brooklynite who was the first African-American woman elected to Congress in 1968 and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972.
The stamp, unveiled at a ceremony inside Brooklyn Borough Hall, features a painting by artist Robert Shetterly. It is the 37th in the Postal Services’ Black Heritage series.
Chisholm, born in Bedford-Stuyvesant to immigrant parents, earned her B.A. from Brooklyn College. In 1968, she was elected to represent New York’s 12th District, which included her own neighborhood of Crown Heights, with strong support from local Lubavitchers.
Borough President Eric Adams called on the public to join him in “ensuring that our legacy will be as great as Congresswoman Chisholm’s legacy continues to be. I welcome you to join me in this charge to continue the great life of Shirley Chisholm.”
When she left Congress in 1983, Chisholm told participants at her retirement party that she credits the Rebbe with inspiring her celebrated work to expand the national Food Stamp Program, later known as the WIC program.
“I owe this to the Rabbi who is an optimist, who taught me that what you may think is a challenge is a gift from G-d,” she said about the effort to allow poor Americans to buy subsidized food.
It was the Rebbe, she told, that encouraged her to help poor people after she was appointed to the Congress’ Agriculture Committee, a place where it was assumed that she could have little influence.
“What a blessing G-d has given you!” the Rebbe told Chisholm, urging her to take advantage of the position to do something about food supplies. “This country has so much surplus food, and there are so many hungry people. You can use this gift that G-d gave you to feed hungry people. Find a creative way to do it.”
At her farewell from Congress, Chisholm said that “if poor babies have milk, and poor children have food, it’s because this Rabbi in Crown Heights had vision.”
The story was told by David Luchins, a senior advisor to the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and written by Dovid Zaklikowski on Chabad.org.